All Politics Is Local – Freeing Lucha Libre in Washington State

As some of you may have noticed on Facebook, both myself and Lucha Volcánica recently expressed support for Washington State HB 2573, which would help to lower the initial costs to host a lucha libre show—for that matter any type of professional wrestling show—in Washington State.

I am in no way a deregulation mongerer, but the rigor of the State’s requirements is as such that opening and maintaining a professional wrestling promotion—both financially and logistically—is nearly impossible. Based upon the requirements, here’s a rough breakdown of expenses a wrestling promotion incurs for a single event:

  • A promoter’s license: $500
  • 6% of the gross receipts paid for admission must be paid to the state
  • …plus $1 per ticket sold
  • Protective guardrail around the ring: $100-$170
  • An ambulance plus 2 EMTs must be onsite for the entirety of the event (usually 2-3 hours): $110 per hour, plus a minimum charge of one hour of drive time.
  • “Adequate” (definition unclear) security staffing, but clearly this could create additional costs.

This of course, is all before the promoter pays any space rental fee, and pays her performers, the emcee, ring announcers, DJs, and so on.

Additionally when a promoter intends to have an event, he or she is required to have an inspection by a state licensed inspector. The DOL site lists only three inspectors: two of whom have expired licenses and one of whom is “pending documentation.” The latter of which illustrates that even if a promoter wants to eat all of the costs to have an event, odds are she would have trouble doing so legally by the State by the sheer inaccessibility of an inspector.

It’s also worth noting that each individual wrestler must be licensed. This Combative Sports License must be renewed and paid for annually by the performer, and requires:

  • a physical examination
  • an STD blood panel
  • a urine test
  • a $25 fee to the state

In my experience, the full cost of this exam is roughly $150-$200 to the performer.

A priori these costs alone appear crippling to a small company. This is perhaps best illustrated by the Washington Department of Licensing’s numbers. Of the 27 promoters licenses for the state, only 2—WWE and TNA—are active. Similarly only two Pacific Northwest announces are licensed, with the remaining 10 or so licenses belonging to WWE announcers. Further, of the 200 viewable wrestling licenses listed, the only active licensed belong to WWE wrestlers°. This lacking diversity within the licensure illustrates a system that prevents small companies from flourishing, or pushes them underground often forcing performers to wrestle in less than ideal conditions. In either case the State is not benefitting financially, and the potential for a lucha libre or pro wrestling scene—and all of the business therein—is being squandered. The net gain for performers, local business, and the State alike ultimately lies in changing the current regulations, which are proving to keep lucha libre and pro wrestling in a perpetual chokehold.

News footage: Seattle-area performers talk about problems with Washington State’s regulation of wrestling.

° Only A-D portions of the alphabet are viewable on the DOL website.

Sources:
Licensing statistics: WA State Department of Licensing: http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/athletics/prowrestler.html

EMT & Ambulance Pricing Quote: American Medical Response: http://www.amr.net/Locations/Operations/Washington/Tacoma—-Pierce-County.aspx

Guardrail rental quote: National Barricade Co. 6518 Ravenna Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115

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